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Timothy Olmsted, St. Paul Teacher Accused Of Discriminating Against Black Students, Sees Case Move To Federal Court
Sep-13-2012 533 0


Heights Community School parents have filed a lawsuit that is now moving to federal courts against the St. Paul Public School District in Minnesota, amid an investigation into allegations that teacher Timothy Olmsted discriminated against black students.

Olmsted resigned after the district placed him on paid leave in the spring after parents complained that he called black students "fat, black and stupid" and told them, "you will never amount to anything" and "you only have one parent.

The teacher also allegedly forced black students to sit in the back of the classroom, or sit with their desks facing the wall.

"He told the whole entire class that it is easier for him to teach rich white folks than poor black people," Tolbert told reporters.

Olmsted resigned in March, but is still being paid through the first week of October, and parents are dissatisfied. He is also not facing disciplinary action due to the resignation.

In the suit, parents claim that the district failed to protect their children from Olmsted, the Star Tribune reports. Latasha Tolbert, mother of 12-year-old Jamia Ware, said she made nearly 100 calls to school officials in the fall regarding Olmsted's classroom behavior, but the no one acted until January.

District representatives, however, tell the Star Tribune that an investigation was launched promptly and all complaints against the teacher were addressed immediately. Olmsted's attorney notes that the teacher "denies any improper conduct and believes that the claims against him are baseless."

But the educator has a record of controversy. The St. Paul School District reported in 2002 that Olmsted gave a sixth grade girl a birthday card with sexual innuendos, and requested that she read it to the class. He was also accused of giving a graphic description of castrating horses and throwing testicles into a field to feed cats.

For the various incidents over the years, disciplinary actions against him have ranged from written reprimands to days of suspension without pay. Students also find his more recent, racial comments strange.

"He would say random things like when I get out of the shower my dog dries me off," student Aylecia Ingram-Jones told reporters in a separate report.

Her father, Miguel Jones, has moved the teen to another school district, and asserts that there should be no question about whether Olmsted should be allowed to keep teaching.

"I wouldn't stand for it," Jones said. "Right is right. Wrong is wrong."

Minnesota does not have statewide regulations regarding disciplinary action for teachers, so process is followed based on district decisions and as outlined in teachers' union contracts.

The allegations in St. Paul are similar to complaints against Kathleen Pyles, a math teacher at North End Middle School in Waterbury, Conn., who was placed on paid leave in June while officials investigate claims that she addressed a black student with a racist remark.

Parents have accused Pyles of inappropriately calling a student "black boy" when she couldn't remember his name. When she first called the boy by the wrong name, he pointed out her mistake. So she responded, "How about black boy? Go sit down, black boy."

Parents are calling for her dismissal.

In another incident in March, a Virginia high school English teacher allegedly asked the only black student in the class to read a poem in a "blacker" manner.

Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., says he was reading aloud Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him.

"She told me, 'Blacker, Jordan -- c'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate told The Washington Post.

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Jennifer Fermino Jul-03-2015 73 0
A former top aide to Mayor de Blasio’s wife served as a backchannel messenger to both the mayor and the Rev. Al Sharpton, emails released to the Daily News Thursday reveal.

Rachel Noerdlinger provided Sharpton, her former boss, with insider info and delivered “talking points” to Sharpton to have him attack unfavorable stories on de Blasio, the emails, provided to the News as part of a Freedom of Information request, show.

She also got Sharpton to lend a hand when de Blasio was under fire for interceding on behalf of a supporter, the Rev. Orlando Findlayter, who’d been arrested for outstanding warrants related to traffic violations and a civil disobedience arrest.

On Feb. 14, 2014, Findlayter announced he would address questions about the arrest at a press conference to be held at Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.

Rachel Noerdlinger, embattled aide to NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, leaves office as mayor slams 'repulsive' scrutiny by media

That afternoon Noerdlinger - who was on the city payroll as a $170,000 chief of staff to First Lady Chirlane McCray - emailed Sharpton from her City Hall email address.

The subject line was “Bishop Orlando Findlayter to Address Press tomorrow.” Noerdlinger stated, “Sorry I have been at a speaking engagement with Chirlane is there a way for this not to happen? It is an unnecessary distraction."

Sharpton promptly canceled the event, telling the News Thursday, "The rationale was if he's in a legal proceeding, he shouldn't say anything."

Noerdlinger also served as City Hall’s conduit when they needed Sharpton’s help combating what they perceived would be an unfavorable Wall Street Journal story.

At the time, de Blasio was dealing with the Findlayter headache and sparring with the press after his drivers were caught speeding and running a stop sign.

She also got Sharpton to lend a hand when de Blasio was under fire for interceding on behalf of a supporter, the Rev. Orlando Findlayter, who’d been arrested for outstanding warrants related to traffic violations and a civil disobedience arrest.

The mayor’s then-top spokesman, Phil Walzak, sent a long list of talking points to Noerdlinger to forward to Sharpton so he could defend the mayor to the Journal.

“Pls share w Rev our thanks for his help on this. Below are background and talking points,” Walzak wrote.

She immediately forwarded them along, stating, “Rev. Sharpton: Please see below. I am going to find out the timing and whether it needs to still happen today.”

It also went the other way.

On Feb. 19, 2014, days before the public was told the city was going to settle the contentious stop-and-frisk case, then-mayoral aide Peter Ragone circulated a memo to “senior cabinet” members, including Noerdlinger.

The memo revealed the city was about to settle “the racial profile lawsuit” within days. Noerdlinger then emailed de Blasio’s top political aide, Emma Wolfe.

“Emma can I be helpful at all with validators/community endorsers (RAS) let me know. This is a big deal.” RAS stood for the Rev. Al Sharpton.

In the emails Ragone considers letting the law enforcement unions, including the Patrolmens Benevolent Association, in on the settlement the morning it’s announced.

It isn’t clear from the emails when the unions were actually told, but Wolfe told Noerdlinger to give Sharpton the heads up at 5:45 p.m. that day.

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Elizabeth Vanmetre Jul-03-2015 96 0
Charges for assault and battery against the rapper, 45, have been dropped.

A spokesperson of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced no felony charges will be issued and instead the star's case has been moved to city court to decide if the dispute should be listed as a misdemeanor.

"We are thankful that the district attorney rejected felony charges in this matter," Diddy's attorney, Mark Geragos, told the LA Times. "This case never should have been part of the criminal justice system to begin with."

The mogul was originally arrested after he reportedly attacked the school's assistant football coach and an intern with a kettlebell during an incident after a football practice.
UCLA defensive back Justin Combs made a splash when he signed to play for UCLA.

The coach, Sal Alosi, allegedly rubbed Diddy the wrong way when he mocked his son by posting photos of him sitting courtside with his dad during football practice in the gym, then later kicking him off the field during a workout.

"While you guys were training, this guy is sitting courtside with his dad," he allegedly told the team.

When the rapper approached Alsoi later about his actions the reported fight began.

UCLA has not released a detailed statement of the incident although Diddy has continued to say that he acted out in self-defense.

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RACHELLE BLIDNER Jul-02-2015 129 0
Two girls jumped out of a third-floor window moments before flames burst through their Georgia apartment, dramatic video shows.

The girls broke the glass after seeing smoke Tuesday, screaming as they leaped out of the building in Sandy Springs, about 15 miles north of Atlanta, according to video by 11 Alive.

A 17-year-old girl dove head-first out the window and a 6-year-old girl followed her, falling into the arms of two neighbors below, resident Thomas Lemon told My Fox Atlanta.

"They were frantic and they were crying and they were upset and you could actually see the fire was approaching them, going from one apartment to another apartment, getting closer and closer to them," witness Amber Vannoy told CBS46

Fire officials did not learn the girls' names, ages, relationship or current conditions because of patient confidentiality laws.

The girls were transported with lacerations to a children's hospital, where they were listed in stable condition Tuesday, Sanders said. They were the only people injured.

The girls were so disoriented that they could not remember their mother's number, neighbors said.

The girls did the "smart thing" by exiting through the window instead of trekking through the smoke, Sanders said.

"That was the only way the girls could get out," Sanders said. "To predict how people react, no matter if you're a teenager or an adult, is impossible when they feel their lives have been threatened."

A resident accidentally started the fire about 1:20 p.m. by discarding a burning cigarette in a box filled with paper in the back of the building, Sanders said.

The flames soon spread to the roof, burning it off.

Twenty-nine people who lived there have been displaced, and they are receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

Sanders said he did not expect to file charges against the resident who started the fire.

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Jul-01-2015 135 0
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was found guilty of attempted extortion and perjury Wednesday, and several deputies immediately escorted him from the courtroom into custody.

A jury was unanimous in convicting Ellis on the four felony charges related to allegations that he strong-armed county contractors into contributing to his 2012 re-election campaign. Ellis was found not guilty on five other charges.

Ellis and his wife didn’t move or show emotion as the jury foreman read the verdicts after deliberating about 27 hours over six days.

Ellis will be sentenced July 8. The maximum sentence for the three perjury counts is 10 years imprisonment, and the attempt to commit theft by extortion count carries a five-year maximum sentence.

The conviction brought an end to Ellis’ political career, where he had reached the pinnacle of leadership in the 700,000-person county in 2008 and then convincingly won a second term four years later.

Ellis, his attorneys and his family didn’t comment. Neither did District Attorney Robert James, who is bound by a gag order until after sentencing.

Walton, who agreed to wear a wire so he would not be charged with lying to a special purpose grand jury when he was asked if he got gifts or services from county vendors.

The extortion count involved accusations that Ellis shook down Power and Energy Services, which serviced generators for the county. Jurors heard a recording in which Ellis solicited contributions from Brandon Cummings, the president of the company.

“If I’ve got to sit down and explain to you why you would want to support this county government … ” Ellis said on the recording. “You obviously have an interest in DeKalb County … I’m not asking you to make a charitable contribution. I’m asking you to make a campaign contribution.”

The three perjury charges dealt with Ellis’ testimony to a special grand jury, when he said under oath that he doesn’t get involved in county contracting.

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JASON SILVERSTEI Jul-01-2015 124 0
Three people in Baltimore, including a teenage boy, have been indicted for murder, rape, arson and gang charges in the brutal death of a high school girl, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Adonay Dixon, 23, and John Childs, 20, were the first two suspects charged for the murder of 16-year-old Arnesha Bowers, the Baltimore Sun reported. They were accused of breaking into Bowers' home, sexually assaulting her, killing her, and stealing $40 in cash, an iPad and a laptop.

Days later, 14-year-old Raeshawn Rivers, who knew Bowers, was arrested and charged as an adult.

After the arrests in early June, Dixon and Childs were slapped with new charges for gang activity. Prosecutors have yet to specify where those charges come from, but detectives have said they believed the two were members of the Bloods and the brutal murder might have been an initiation ritual.

Dixon's mom, Sandra Dixon, has previously refuted any gang connection to her son, despite hesitating to claim he is innocent, WBAL reported.

Bowers, an 11th-grader at Baltimore City College, was found dead June 7 in her grandmother's home, which was set on fire. Police said she was kidnapped and raped, then had her genitals set on fire to hide evidence of the rape before she was strangled.

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BILL HUTCHINSON Jul-01-2015 345 0
Despite being at death’s door, Bobbi Kristina Brown has been hit with a lawsuit by a Georgia man claiming he was severely injured in a car crash she caused.

Russell Eckerman, 41, of Marietta, Ga., claims the Jan. 27 head-on crash left him with medical bills and damages exceeding $730,000.

The accident occurred near Atlanta just three days before Whitney Houston’s only child was found unconscious in a bathtub in her home in Roswell, Ga.

Bobbi Kristina, 21, who has been in a coma ever since, was moved to a hospice facility last week.

The suit, filed Friday in Fulton County, Ga., Supreme Court, charges that Brown was speeding and tailgating a car when she lost control of her 2005 Jeep Liberty, swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with Eckerman’s Ford Taurus.

At the time of the crash, a witness said Eckerman was bleeding from his head and did not have a pulse. Eckerman was revived and taken to North Fulton Hospital, where he spent several days in critical condition.

Witness Osse Lessage told reporters at the time that Bobbi Kristina jumped out of her car and raced to Eckerman to find out his condition.

“She was running and screaming, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Lessage said at the time. “My brother-in-law was there (saying) ‘calm down, calm down.’”

Police investigators determined Bobbi Kristina lost control of the Jeep when she blew a right rear tire. Investigators said they found a nail in the tire.

The suit was brought against Bobbi Kristina through her guardians, who include her father, R&B singer Bobby Brown, her aunt, Pat Houston, and her conservator Bedelia Hargrove.

The suit also named the Ford Motor Company as a defendant, charging the airbag on Eckerman’s car did not deploy properly and its seatbelt was defective.

Meanwhile, Bobbi Kristina’s family continued to hold a bedside vigil for her at the Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Ga.

When leaving the hospice facility Wednesday after a two-hour visit, Pat Houston told the Daily News that her niece’s condition was the “same.”

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SABRINA CASERTA Jul-01-2015 118 0
Corrupt ex-state Sen. Malcolm Smith was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison for attempting to bribe his way onto New York City's Republican mayoral ballot in 2013.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas imposed the sentence in White Plains Federal Court on the once-powerful Queens pol, who was stone-faced throughout the proceeding.

Karas also sentenced former Queens GOP leader Vincent Tabone to 3 1/2 years for his role in the convoluted $200,000 scheme to buy Smith’s way into City Hall.

“Bribes and kickbacks should never play a role in the selection of candidates for public office,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“By attempting to buy and sell a spot on New York City’s mayoral ballot, Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone corrupted one of the most fundamental tenets of the democratic process, that candidates cannot bribe their way onto a ballot.”

Prosecutors said Smith, the former Democratic majority leader in the state Senate, tried to buy the Republican nomination by having a rich developer — who was actually an undercover FBI agent — pay for the the backing of the Bronx and Queens Republican machines. Smith also agreed to steer $500,000 in state money towards a real estate development in Spring Valley, N.Y., for the undercover agent and a cooperating witness.

Smith, who represented parts of Queens, did not speak in court.

He had sought a sentence of only a year and a day, arguing that he pursued the bribery scheme not for financial gain but out of a desire to help the people of New York City.

“He wasn't buying a seat; he was just looking for the opportunity to run,” his attorney Gerald Shargel said.

But Karas wasn’t buying that argument, though he did note Smith’s “good deeds” factored in the sentence.

“Just because Mr. Smith wasn't lining his pockets, doesn't mean he wasn't engaging in good, old-fashioned bribery,” Karas said. “The person who benefited the most in this scheme is the one who wanted to be the mayor, even if he wanted to be a good mayor.”

Prosecutors said Tabone accepted $20,000 during a boozy dinner at Sparks Steak House in Midtown on Smith’s behalf from the undercover FBI agent. He also attempted to persuade a witness in the case to not testify against him.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions. Politics can be a noble and worthy endeavor, but my conduct was not. It was dead wrong. If you do what I did, you'll be where I am,” Tabone said.

Former City Councilman Dan Halloran, who attempted to negotiate the bribes for Smith’s spot on the ballot, has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Shargel said Smith would appeal the sentence. He must surrender on Sept. 21 and asked to be locked up at Otisville Correctional Facility.

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Jun-30-2015 141 0
One of New York’s own, a teen who attended school on the Upper West Side, was one of the two big winners Monday night at the seventh annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards on Broadway .

Marla Louissaint, 17, who just graduated from the Beacon School, was named best actress after performing a rousing solo of “I’m Here” from “The Color Purple.”

Marla told the Daily News she will study engineering at Fordham University in the fall.

Anthony Skillman, 18, who just graduated from Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., was named best actor.

The two top awards, nicknamed the Jimmys after theater owner James M. Nederlander, include $10,000 scholarships.

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TOBIAS SALINGER Jun-29-2015 157 0
A kitchen employee at a North Carolina jail is accused of having sex with an inmate who worked with her in the mess hall and helping the convicted murderer escape for a day, police said.

Kendra Lynette Miller, 33, allegedly assisted in the Saturday breakout of Kristopher McNeil, 29, from a minimum-security facility at Brown Creek Correctional Institution, roughly 45 miles east of Charlotte, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

McNeil was found Sunday night, NBC News reported.

Polkton police charged Miller with harboring a fugitive and aiding and abetting a fugitive, along with having sex with an inmate and supplying a cell phone, Anson County Jail records show.

McNeil, a Winston-Salem man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2009, apparently climbed over the prison’s fence on Saturday, prison officials said. Authorities found him around 11 p.m. Sunday after getting spotted near the border of Davidson and Forsyth counties, according to NBC.

McNeil, who was scheduled to be released in less than three years, was initially charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 death of an accused cocaine trafficker, the Winston-Salem Journal reported at the time. He admitted to the second-degree murder rap and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in a plea deal.

The prisoner and Miller apparently worked together in the cafeteria, where she had been an employee since December, state prisons spokeswoman Pamela Walker said. Miller is incarcerated in Anson County Jail on a $500,000 bond, and she hasn’t hired a lawyer, a jail official said.

The search for the missing North Carolina inmate crystallized on Sunday just as authorities located and shot New York fugitive David Sweat in the upstate town of Constable. Sweat, 35, and Richard Matt, 49, allegedly escaped from the nearby Clinton Correctional Facility with the help of two prison workers earlier this month.

Kristopher McNeil, 29, allegedly climbed the fence at his North Carolina minimum-security prison on Saturday with the help of a woman he's believed to have worked with in the prison kitchen.
Law enforcement officers fatally shot Matt on Friday and critically wounded Sweat on Sunday afternoon.

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